How to Save Money on Clothes (to Spend on Travel!)

Budget-minded travelers usually live a budget-minded lifestyle at home even when they aren’t traveling. We scrimp and save on things non-travelers might scoff at. Like, all the ways to save money on clothes.

There are two things in particular that I do that I’m going to challenge you, ladies specifically, to try out and see if they can become part of your money-saving lifestyle as well.

© Annie Spratt / Unsplash

Want More Money to Spend on Traveling? Be Better Than Average and Change Your Mind-set.

Studies show that the average American woman spends almost $4,000 per year shopping at malls and spends over 140 hours shopping for clothes alone. That’s enough to start a new hobby! And don’t think that cutting out stores and malls is good enough to save money because online shoppers spend 25% more than brick and mortar store shoppers.

Seriously, how much money do you spend every year on new clothes? Enough for a plane ticket across the world, perhaps?

I know that my wardrobe is already small compared to an average female’s closet, even though I have a full closet and dresser. So, I think I’m doing pretty good on being better than average. However, since I probably wore about half the clothes I own, if that, I made a goal to not buy any new clothes (shoes and accessories included) for an entire year (this was back in 2013).

Related: The Clear Your Closet Challenge

The one exception I made was buying souvenirs while traveling overseas. You can’t NOT buy a fun, colorful scarf when you fall in love with it during a 6-week European train trip!

Souvenirs aside, I successfully avoided buying new clothes for a year!

“How did she do it?” you might ask yourself. It’s all about combining a money-saving mind-set with your priorities. The bottom line is that clothes just aren’t a priority for me. I would rather save every dollar that I could spend shopping and spend it on my travel experiences instead. That there is a money-saving mind-set.

How to get a money-saving mind-set

  • Get real clear on wants vs needs. I find that anything I think I want, I really don’t need.
  • I stopped going to clothing stores, cold turkey. Out of sight, out of mind.
  • I compared the cost of clothes vs travel. For instance, a new outfit can equal 3 nights at a hostel. I’ll take the nights at the hostel, thanks!

Yes, I could probably use some new items of clothing here and there, but the bottom line is that it isn’t completely, 100% necessary. For me, this probably saves several hundred dollars per year, which is well below average.

Now the Challenge!

Alright, you’ve got your priorities in check and your money saving mind-set is strong!

Now I want to introduce two ways to save money on clothes that more people should take advantage of. Borrowing and Swapping! Unlike shopping at thrift stores and consignment shops, these two methods of saving money on clothes are 100% FREE!

Save money on clothes
I borrowed the dress I’m wearing from a friend for this wedding, and I plan to borrow dresses for two more weddings before summer is over.

Challenge #1: Borrow Clothes

The best time to borrow clothes is for special occasions and events that you need to dress up for, such as a wedding. Often, weddings are used as an excuse to shop for new dresses, which lead to new shoes, possibly new belts, new jewelry, new purses, etc.

One outfit for a wedding that you attend as a guest could easily cost $100 or more. For me it would be more like $30 because I shop at Ross, but I know that for most females, price tags can easily get out of hand.

Borrowing dresses is smart because they are new to me, which makes dressing up more fun, and no one I know is going to see me wearing the same dress to multiple weddings (bonus!). The best part about borrowing is that, again, it doesn’t cost a dime.

Challenge #2: Swap Clothes

Host a clothing swap (sometimes called a naked lady party for some reason) with your girlfriends. It is not only a fun excuse to get together and drink some wine, but everyone gets to go home with “new” (to them) clothes while getting rid of others that they don’t wear anymore.

The concept was weird when I first learned about it, and I was a bit intimidated by the sheer volume of clothes piled up in the center of the living room at my friend’s house, but I walked away with some solid pieces that I treasured for years.

Best of all, anything that doesn’t get claimed can go to women’s shelters or thrift stores, making it win-win for everyone.

Can YOU do it?

I challenge you to apply these two money-saving tips to your own life, closet, and wallet. Start right now! Don’t wait for New Year’s resolution time to come around. You might find that it’s easier than you imagine it to be, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the extra savings in your bank account!